Friday, April 24, 2009


Tiel over at Knocking from Inside gave me this idea for alternative presentations of poems...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Easter Saturdays

Easter Saturdays (tentative title because I stink at titles)

Cars full of people split the swamp where my creek flows.
They must not ponder, pause, stare at hollowed logs,
branchless trunks and wonder about the end of winter,
spring still a whisper in the trickle of cold water through the culvert.

What does all this dying mean, this surrender
after striving for three seasons? Grasses have been shedding
locks for decades, climbing out of caskets, grow and grow
over all their flawed history. We are all eating ourselves,

regurgitating what we thought was digested,
disposed and left behind. But it heaves back,
the crunch of gravel chip and seal, the steady rain falling
after having traveled the culvert just yesterday,

when I straddled the guard rail, cold metal creasing my thighs,
watching every season of my life die and be reborn.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kind of unorthodox for Sarah, but anyway...

I haven't been following the rules of one of the website's prompts, but today I wanted to catch up to my once-a-weekday, so I stopped by and found the prompt to write a poem whose first line or title begins All I want is... and then you need to fill in the blank. So I did.

All I Want is a Martini,

slim and light, a cherry bobbing
like romance in apple pucker,
its stem a curling finger.
Caramel lips the edge
of the glass, locks
sticky sweet, and I lick.

A sexy sip,
cool on my tongue,
then slow rain,
neckline kisses,
silken sheets.

The Corner Stand

The Corner Stand

The pick-up’s open tailgate displays
the fruits of our labors – bushel baskets
of fresh-picked sweet corn, Sugar Baby
watermelon, zucchini, yellow squash,
tomatoes, green bell and banana peppers
all arranged in quart containers.

It is unpredictable at the corner stand –
will passersby, hankering for a dozen,
see our shining vegetables, mouths watering
for a taste of straight-from-the-vine
cherry tomatoes, pull in or drive by?

Fishermen steer into the lot towing a boat
off Lake LaDue, a long sunburned afternoon
on the reservoir rewarded with a few Bluegill.
They admire the way we’ve displayed our corn,
tassels up, baskets full, pull over
for a few ears on their way home.

We polish the dirt off cucumbers
til they shine, rake footsteps away
from in front of the stand,
chase the shade of an ancient maple,
turn the ignition and pull forward,
scrape the red awning across dirt.
We straighten the tablecloth.

It is a weekday – the rusted truck bed
does not empty. The sun dips low
behind the hill. We count the number
of cars that do not stop. The red F-150
extended cab with Edison Marine
in tow returns, demands whatever we have left,
no matter the price – there’s a bon fire

down the street – big shindig – dinner’s
a clam bake, family style. We unload
our bushels into brown bags, stack
them in the bed. They write a check
and then they’re off, leave our little stand
in the dust, a slim day suddenly jolly.

We cross the street to the Inn, buy
a couple burgers, French fries and Pepsis,
celebrate our long day at a booth in the bar.
Tomorrow is Saturday; we will pick
two truck beds’ worth, enough
for weekend cook-outs, pool parties,
weddings, baptisms, funerals.
We will feed the masses.

The Gardener Exhibits His Work

The Gardener Exhibits His Work

“Let me show you my garden,” so I follow him
out the back patio. Aromas overwhelm the air –
vines of roses pruned, trimmed, and trained to climb
the trellis, blooms loosed like curls. Lilac groves multiply
their purple flowers, precision mathematic, the scent
of infinity on the breeze. The garden is strategic –
violas, azaleas, peonies, lilies, delphiniums,
chrysanthemums, holly – color for each season.

I am in awe - extravagance, investment, creativity! -
turn to tell him so but he is still walking,
ducking under split rails. I sprint after him,
leap rows of recent tulip cultivars, spy a line
of weeping cherries, orchards heavy in fruit.
He’s in the field now, weeds waist-high.
Hands stroke grasses in seed, shattercain,
poison hemlock, Canada thistle, dandelions,
Queen Anne’s lace. I glance over my shoulder
at the ordered garden behind the fence.

“What do you think?” he asks, spreading his arms
to encompass all this timeless wildness, this freedom.


I just had an idea for another poem that might be a little more entertaining and perhaps less predictable than this one. I'll see what I can put together tonight ;)

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I Chronicles 21:15

How many times have you said,
Enough! Withdraw your hand
the vessel of your wrath subdued?
What invokes this rage, earthquakes,
hurricanes, bubonic plague, rampant
trauma sweeping across continents?

Why spare any? Impossible
to find mercy in so many, to look
beyond intractable justice and see
love hollow in bellies of famine-struck,
flowing like stopped-up rivers, years
of cloudless skies, millions dying of thirst.

Thank God it wasn’t worse. How much worse
could it have been? Prayers uttered
over sickness, violence, shootings,
bombings, death camps. Thank God
it stopped when it did.
Nations wait,
smug faces turned – look me in the eyes,
we say, give us your signs, the proof is in
the flood, earthquake, famine, plague.

My son strains against my grip,
tucked into a bear hug, restrained –
you will listen and obey. The tears come fast,
grief rolling at this confinement,
a humbling hold until Enough.

Withdraw your hand.
Sobs like breaking
thunder, tears welling, bursting, driving rain.


Being that this is a first draft, I have a lot of work to do to think through this poem. I want to wrestle with this line, "Enough! Withdraw your hand," and probably shrink the earlier stanzas and grow the more personal connection. It isn't an easy topic - the wrath and mercy of God - but I think I can get somewhere with it. It's just going to take me longer than tonight :)

It has been a while since I just wrote about how things are going around here. The kids are doing great - it was a beautiful day so we spent most of it playing outside and everyone is thoroughly exhausted, including me. Brandon is in PA for baseball, and they are playing SO well. It's exciting - the only bummer for me is that it is really hard to get to the games - we haven't made it once yet. I loved that about baseball season. Hopefully we'll get to a game sometime.

I just realized my tags for this post are going to be really strange. ;) poetry, wrath, God, death, family spring, baseball ;)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

We fly the same V for weeks, know
our destination without words and sail,
driven by a force north to calmer waters.
It is almost instinctual, the way we settle
on the lake, wingtips ripple, wait for summer.
But nesting takes its toll, days stretch out as long

as summer shadows. Our hatchlings are a handful,
so stressed, endure nine weeks of molting,
flight feathers plucked just to grow them again.
We are grounded these first days, exhausted –
hiss at threatening predators, each other,
broaden our wing spans to show our power.

Now that they’re strong enough to fly,
we migrate from the only nest they’ve known,
feel that same pull south. Wind shifts
in fitful gusts, why must this tension reign,
unpredictable? The currents turn, certainty
drifts away. Our flock edges the horizon,

uneven. I thought I knew how we moved,
how best to battle each season. Life-long mate,
please do not desert me. The V will tighten,
lean, ascend out of this turbulence. I will follow
your lead, watch for signs of fatigue, take your place
at the head for a time so you can breathe.




Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Lily Kind of Love

NOTE: Please, please, PLEASE if you know my brother or his fiance, do not disclose this project to them. I am rather certain neither of them are on Facebook or blogger or anything else right now, so I am going to step out on a limb and ask for a little feedback about this sonnet, dedicated to them. It's part of the poem-a-day project, so even though it is technically a first draft, I've been sitting here for an hour and a half making sure the endlines rhyme correctly. The meter is a bit of a mess, but I think I have five "beats" in each line - even if it isn't straight iambic pentameter (I'm pretty sure that's "required" in a sonnet... not that Bill and Rachel will care one way or the other).


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Picture Book

I don't like my title. Oh well.

Picture Book
His gentle dumb expression turnd at length
The Eye of Eve to mark his play; he glad
Of her attention gaind, with Serpent Tongue
Organic, or impulse of vocal Air,
His fraudulent temptation thus began.
- Book 9, lines 527-531, Paradise Lost by John Milton

My children identify animals,
name and order according to their kinds.
We turn to reptiles, son and daughter
shrieking, “Snakes are scary!”
and I agree, an after-Eden Eve.

But being ten, I watched a garter glide
between my hands, my voice tasting innocent
on his tongue. I followed his twist
over my wrist, the simple movement
like memory, so steady the snake’s body
trickled like mist pooling on leaves.

We turn the page in the picture book –
eagles, owls, cranes, flamingos, doves –
celebrate the birds of peace, strength, paradise
who cast their shadows on the earth
and dive, snatch the snake from wild grasses,
smooth path trailing away from a tree,
a corner of the garden stolen, hunger satisfied.

Monday, April 6, 2009


I almost didn't write a poem tonight because, well, I'm lazy. And my body said no. But since my body didn't have to do much to write and since I followed the lead of a friend to make the "Mosaic of Me" on Facebook (which should technically appear below), I decided there had to be a poem in some of these pictures. So here's what came out tonight. I don't know what the deal is with all of the other-worldly thoughts lately, but I guess I just like to think about heaven. And the process of getting there. Something about the season I suppose.



Saturday, April 4, 2009

In Our Backyard

... a tentative title... and, as all poems go with April PAD, a work in progress. It was time for a poem about my brothers :)

In Our Backyard

In our backyard, we were always digging.
We needed to practice the art
of going deeper, how best to slant
the shovel, step, jump – open up the earth,
dump and sift larger granules for finer grains

of sand. We used the tools of our father –
placed our child-sized hands on the back
of dump trucks and crawled, knees
soaking up damp sand. It was important
to be close to the ground.

Mountains moved in our backyard
as we built castles, buried Matchbox cars,
redirected rivers with the water
from our garden hose, our landscape
slowly eroding down into the valley.

We excavated sea floor fossils
from limestone in the driveway,
gathered up bones, stacked each stone –
miniature monuments to our family’s
land, quarrel, eternal sweat.

Excavating runs in blood –
it is all the same trade, really –
one brother digs holes to unearth
impossible boulders, negotiate roots,
measure depth and drainage.

The other takes what is broken,
welds it together, knows metal
is stronger at the point of fracture,
shapes steel into custom framework.
We grow out of the same tilled soil;

we are trying to give order to chaos,
make sense of brokenness, create
something from the ground beneath us,
exhume the passions of a childhood
buried in a backyard sandbox.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

PAD Challenge and Creek Walk

April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate, I've decided to again take up the challenge to write a poem-a-day. I altered the challenge a bit last year to only happen on the weekdays unless I felt particularly inspired on the weekends, so I will likely stick to these guidelines again this year. My kids and husband deserve some attention at least on the weekends ;)

To kick things off, I'd like to mention how I started this afternoon carrying around a notebook in my hooded sweatshirt walking down the sidewalk with my kids. Apparently I thought I could sneak in a poem while Lydia rode her bike and Elvis wandered from grass to sidewalk to tree to grass to sidewalk. A laughable effort, to say the least. I was on the hunt for a poem - I came back with a son on my shoulders and the notebook rolled up in the pocket of my sweatshirt.

It was feeling like a very poor start to this challenge, but after the kids went to bed, I whipped out the notebook and started in on this poem (now in third draft form, maybe?):

Creek Walk

Wading in the stream to feel the current
find its way between my legs, I become
part of the riverbed, sediment blending
with my toes. I am woven with the wild
grasses on the banks, molded to the surface
of the earth in perfect curves, my body
fluid, rooted. I could be washed
away with a little extra rain.

What trickles harmless around me now
will expose the roots of ancient trees
downriver later, who lean toward light,
grow sideways to keep from sliding.
They too will join the rapid flow,
deteriorate and turn to sediment.

I dip my fingers in to feel the river
make room for me. I will participate
in this shifting of earth - dirt loosened
until the roots give way.